He played it cool — calling himself an “entrepreneur” instead of a “former child actor” — but TV viewers still recognized Paris Themmen, one of the contestants on the March 13 episode of Jeopardy!. As many fans excitedly tweeted, Mike played the television-addicted Mike Teevee in the beloved 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The 58-year-old didn’t even mention his claim to fame when Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek asked him for a fun fact. Instead, he talked about his love for backpacking, saying he has trekked through six of seven continents. And fans were confounded, to say the least. “@ParisThemmen, why talk about backpacking?” asked one Twitter user. “Why wouldn’t you mention that when you were 11, you got invited to a chocolate factory in Germany and got split up in a million pieces then shrunk down to the size of a chocolate bar. Total missed opportunity if you ask me.”
After his famous role in the candy-coated film, Paris didn’t act on-screen much — though he did play an uncredited “fawning fan” in a 2000 episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Instead, he went to New York University and got a BFA in theater, according to his official website, and then founded a backpacking travel service called Access International. He has also dabbled in real estate, film production, theme park design, retail, and commercial casting. Paris has actually appeared on other game shows, too. According to IMDb, he competed on Win Ben Stein’s Money and won, and he competed on Trivial Pursuit: The Game Show and lost.
As for Jeopardy!, Paris played valiantly but didn’t get a Golden Ticket to the next episode, so to speak. He answered the “Final Jeopardy!” question correctly and doubled his winnings — accurately naming Atlas Shrugged as the 1,000-page, female-written novel that The New York Times called “one of the most influential books ever written” — but his final tally of $6,800 didn’t hold a candle to the $19,201 haul of returning champ Zach Dark. Still, we bet Paris’ trivia skills had Mike Teevee glued to the screen nonetheless.
This article was originally posted on our sister site, Closer Weekly.